"Why," asks blogger Matt Yglesias as he scrutinizes the figures, "are we spending a multiple of Afghanistan's total GDP on fighting a war in the country?" Gripes about the cost of the war are common, but Yglesias is making a subtler point. He thinks over General McChrystal's assertion that the Taliban outpays the Afghan government when it comes to soldiers' wages, and Spencer Ackerman's response that it's clearly a "glaring" problem "if ... many Taliban foot soldiers essentially fight because of economic opportunity."

The problem, says Yglesias, sounds correctable: "If there's anything the international coalition has, it's more money than the Taliban." So he questions the "cost-effectiveness" of the current approach:

Why are we spending a multiple of Afghanistan's total GDP on fighting a war in the country? Couldn't more be done, for cheaper, with cash for bribes and development?